ST. PAUL, Minn. - A new joint approach in St. Paul will allow firefighters and EMTs to go into dangerous situations sooner in order to save more victims.
The St. Paul SWAT team led training sessions in a vacant nursing home on East 7th Street for three days. A total of 375 officers were joined by police from 25 other agencies around the state for the unprecedented training.
Agencies from Richfield, North Saint Paul, Metro transit police and even tribal officers from some reservations participated. The St. Paul firefighters were also on hand to learn their roles in the new scenario.
"The whole goal of this activity is for police officers to get into a scene, make contact with the aggressor, contain the aggressor and then get the fire personnel escorted into the scene so we can get medical treatment to the victims as soon as possible," explained Commander Tim Flynn, St. Paul SWAT team.
"We identify it as an unsafe scene," added Flynn. "That is why we have an escort team with the fire personnel. They will be escorted by police officers at all times. The police officers are basically their protective shell around them and their goal is just that, to protect the firefighters, bring them up to a victim so that they can work on a victim and get the victim out of the area."
In the realistic training, small groups of officers confronted aggressors, played by other officers, who were firing weapons, as though shooting victims. The student-officers approached the aggressor, shooting him, if they could, to stop his actions.
The aggressor and the officers were firing loud soft rounds, in which the bullet is made of stain and soap, but simulates the sound and smell of a gunfight.
In another training area of the building, the St. Paul Bomb Squad simulated a bomb aftermath in which a room was filled with smoke and victims were scattered around the premises. There were also numerous IED explosives that rescuers had to work around.
"You see we replicated smoke, chaos and debris," said Sgt. John Adamek, St. Paul Bomb Squad. "The officers' job is to come in, sort through that, (assist the firefighters to) rescue any victims that are able to be rescued and then evacuate."